Daily Archives: April 27, 2016

Sometimes I Wonder….

If maybe I am just crazy about everything. The last few days I have had a headache and not felt that great. But I had no fever or any other major issues. I felt so bad yesterday I literally thought I was losing my mind. So…I went to the doctor and she says she thinks it’s mostly allergies. I get a steroid shot and by last night was feeling enough better to believe I wasn’t actually completely going crazy!! 

Today was a visit to Dr. Clements. I so love this man!! I am going in tomorrow to have my lithium and thyroid levels checked just to make sure I’m not going completely off the reservation. Then we will decide about my meds. He also prescribed a new sleep medication. I am so hoping this one works. Waking up multiple times a night is really starting to make me crazy. 

I tell this story because I know what it’s like to be scared and worried for yourself. I know what it feels like to spend most of your waking hours wondering over and over again if this is it and you are really going to lose your mind. 

I’m so grateful for doctors and to live in a time where mental health Is something we live with and aren’t destroyed by. Hopefully the next couple weeks will bring me back closer to normal or at least feeling more like myself. Until then keep the faith and don’t give up!!


Sometimes I Wonder….

If maybe I am just crazy about everything. The last few days I have had a headache and not felt that great. But I had no fever or any other major issues. I felt so bad yesterday I literally thought I was losing my mind. So…I went to the doctor and she says she thinks it’s mostly allergies. I get a steroid shot and by last night was feeling enough better to believe I wasn’t actually completely going crazy!! 

Today was a visit to Dr. Clements. I so love this man!! I am going in tomorrow to have my lithium and thyroid levels checked just to make sure I’m not going completely off the reservation. Then we will decide about my meds. He also prescribed a new sleep medication. I am so hoping this one works. Waking up multiple times a night is really starting to make me crazy. 

I tell this story because I know what it’s like to be scared and worried for yourself. I know what it feels like to spend most of your waking hours wondering over and over again if this is it and you are really going to lose your mind. 

I’m so grateful for doctors and to live in a time where mental health Is something we live with and aren’t destroyed by. Hopefully the next couple weeks will bring me back closer to normal or at least feeling more like myself. Until then keep the faith and don’t give up!!


Fuck My Goddamn Life!

Ready. Set. Sail!   CT: Good evening and welcome to another exciting edition of Fuck My Goddamn Life! I’m your host Chip Tastic! Let’s go ahead and meet our contestants: CT: She’s a soybean farmer from rural Nebraska, say hello to Margy SoSweet!! MSS: Moisture and drainage people! That’s how you get the best darn crops!… More Fuck My Goddamn Life!

I Was a Workaholic Mother

img_0532
My son & I. Now he’s fifteen.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. featured me in her HuffPost Women blog article,
Living With Bipolar Disorder as a Mother and Workaholic. Her article quotes my wordy answers to her interview questions.

Interview with Kitt O’Malley

1.  Discuss your decision-making to work and mother at the same time.

Before I even became pregnant, my husband and I purchased a house we could afford on one salary, so that if I decided to stay home, I could, and if I decided to work, I could. I worked during my pregnancy until at thirty-one weeks I went into preterm labor and had to stay on bedrest for five weeks. At that point, off bedrest, I went about painting my son’s nursery and at thirty-seven weeks thrilled to be able to move I danced at an engagement party. That night I went into labor and had my son three weeks early.

By that time, I was ready for some adult interaction. I decided to go back to work two days a week, hiring my sister to bring her infant to my house and babysit twice a week. The responsibilities of my position required that I increase my hours to three days a week, so my husband flexed his time to care for our son that third day. By the end of my son’s first year, my job responsibilities required me to increase my hours to four days a week, at which point I put my son into a family day care. It broke my heart to leave my son every day. My days didn’t end until 7:00pm. After a month or so, I quit and stayed home full-time for over a year.

That year was a challenge. I cobbled together mommy-and-me classes, attended mothers’ groups, yet thirsted for intellectual and creative stimulation that I simply couldn’t get as a stay-at-home mother. By the time my son was twenty-seven months old, I started to experience symptoms which I recognized as hypomania. I felt euphorically called to one church and another. As a former mental health practitioner, I recognized the euphoria as a symptoms of hypomania.

Since I was eighteen I had been in psychotherapy for depression. At thirty, a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor working in non-profits with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents, I had a severe breakdown. I was so depressed that I unable to get out of bed. Finally, I turned to first my internist and then a psychiatrist for help. I was prescribed different three different anti-depressants, and after a few months of medication changes, found myself manic and unable to sleep for a week.

At that time, it was unclear whether I was bipolar or simply reacting to the antidepressant medications. I moved in with my parents, and went to a group practice where I was seen by both a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. By the way, I’m a huge believer in collaborative mental health treatment. I was stabilized on an SSRI antidepressant, slowly titrating my dose up careful to avoid triggering speeding thoughts.

Sorry for the long-winded answer to this first question. I’m usually terse. Anyway, forward a few years… This time I knew that the symptoms I was experiencing were hypomanic in nature and I got the help and diagnosis I needed for stability. What is tragic, is that once my diagnosis changed from dysthymic (chronic depression) to bipolar type II, my internalized stigma was such that I believed that my son would be better off in day care than in my care, and I went back into the work force. My knowledge of bipolar disorder was that it was a serious chronic progressive disorder. I wanted to protect my son from me. So, I went back to work and put him in daycare.

I was unable to keep it together, though. As it turns out, my son was overstimulated by daycare. He exhibited behavioral symptoms and unknown to us at the time struggled with both ADHD and migraines. I often had to pick him up from daycare and bring him into my office where he lied down as I continued to work.

Finally, after a year and a half of overworking with a high needs child, I fell apart and had myself psychiatrically hospitalized. I have been home on disability ever since. It hasn’t been easy. Since I started to write, to blog at kittomalley.com, and to volunteer for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I’ve found a balance where I have both intellectual and emotional stimulation and am able to care for both myself and my son.

2.  Did you have different feelings at different stages of your child’s development (so far) about how available you felt you could be to your children? Did you feel conflicted? How did you work it out? Give some examples of times when you felt pulled in mother/worker directions. In retrospect, would you do it differently now?

Parenting at different stages of a child’s development varies greatly. Infants and toddlers require so much attention. If you are home with them, you cannot even go to the restroom alone. Work was leisurely in comparison. I was able to have lunch with colleagues, talk and interact with adults who were my intellectual equal, and I could go to the bathroom uninterrupted.

When I worked just before my psychiatric hospitalization, I worked as an investment analyst for an entrepreneur. Yes, my career is varied, not surprising for someone with my diagnosis. As an investment advisor for a demanding entrepreneur, I worked late nights. At seven pm, my husband would call, put my son on the phone, and he would ask me, “Mommy, when are you coming home?” Yes, I was a workaholic. Often, I’d go home, make dinner, put my child to sleep, and return to the office or work from home. It was untenable and led to my breakdown. I was unable to do it all.

Over time, I decided that my life has seasons. I need not do everything at once. I still have much to do, much to offer.

3.  How has your child(ren) benefitted from seeing you as a working, accomplishing, successful mother?

As I have turned to writing, my son sees me as both a writer and a mother. At first, he was jealous of my online mental health advocacy and referred to my blogging and social media community as my fake friends. But, over time, he’s seen that just as he has friends through his online gaming activity, and those friends are real, I have relationships through my online community. I participate in my local writers’ group, Orange County Writers, and I volunteer for NAMI. Hopefully, he has learned that “real world” social support and common interest groups are available, and that he, too, can find his tribe.

4.  Explore the importance of motherhood to you.

Ever since my mother was pregnant with my sister, I’ve known that someday I would be a mother. Without a doubt, mothering my son, though often a thankless job, has been my most rewarding job. Now that my son is an adolescent, he actually thanks me regularly. Guess I did and continue to do something right, for I’m proud of the young man he is becoming.

5.  Do you think your choice of occupation(s) was influenced by your maternal desires? In other words, does the subject of your work coincide with your mothering interests and desires and/or is it separate?

My careers have been varied. I started out as a legal assistant for two years after I graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s in Legal Studies. Seeing the insane hours the associates worked, I decided that being a mother was incompatible with the practice of law. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps an attorney need not be a workaholic. But, I was one. I put in more hours than any other legal assistant at the firm. Then I stumbled into psychology without any plans to do so. I worked with adolescents, loving those kids as if they were my own. My background as a psychotherapist helped me as a person and as a mother of a sensitive child. My career in commercial real estate honed my business and analytic skills, which helped me to manage a household and now to manage my parents’ finances and house. I’m not just a mother. I’m the daughter of aging parents who need caregiving and financial assistance, especially since my mother had a severe stroke in November which has made it impossible for her to speak.

6.  What advice do you have for new mothers who want to embark on careers?

Honestly, we are each different. Each mother is unique with unique needs. Each child is unique with unique needs. Each family is unique with unique needs. Figure out what works for you and yours. There is no simple answer.

7.  In what ways do you enjoy and feel successful?

I feel successful now in my life. I have not always, even though I’m a high achiever by nature. At this time in my life, the pieces seem to be falling into place. Struggles I had in the past, careers that seemed disparate, all make sense now, as if my past prepared me for this present. As we struggle, we do not always know what skills we are learning. Now, at fifty-two, my life is beginning to make sense to me, and I’ve only just begun…


Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Parenting, Hypomania, Motherhood Tagged: balance, Huffinton Post Women, HuffPo, work, workaholism

Throw a Bunch of Thoughts into the Pot

sunshine in three days

It has been a very up-and-down three days since I released from the residential crisis center.  To start with, the weather has been crap, or (to be more accurate) severe, and I am tired of rain, tired of thunder, and very tired of keeping up with two dogs who suffer from varying degrees of thunder and storm phobia.  I told my mom I was going to order them and myself a doggie thundershirt.  Yes, they really are driving me that crazy (ier???).

After reading a friend’s post about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I realized that some of my angst might be coming from a lack of sunlight, so I have my sunlamp blazing now, and I just pray it doesn’t throw me into a manic spiral.  It seems like the last month or so, I have experienced the true ick of rapid cycling, and to say it hasn’t been fun is an understatement.  Right now, this moment, I am desperate to feel just a little better, so in front of the sunlamp I will sit, until the bipolar devil on my left shoulder releases it’s talons from my flesh a bit.

I spoke with my peer mentor yesterday, and the conversation that I was worried about went just fine.  We are going to start meeting twice per week for 90 minutes each session, which is what I wanted.  She states that she never received any word that I was at the crisis house, including the Trust Quotes (9)voicemails I sent her and her unit secretary.  I don’t believe her.  I completely think she is lying, but it just shows that you can’t trust people.  Which is sad, because before all of that happened, I had been thinking about trusting her more than the average human being.  Now, I’m not so sure.  It isn’t easy for me to trust people in the first place, and my faith in people is easily lost.  What is different about me, is that I do give people many, many, many chances.  So, while I am not trusting her so much at the moment, she is going to get another chance.

Now that I have pushed through the suicidal ideation and self-harm thoughts of the past little while, I find I am stuck with huge spikes in my anxiety level.  I have spoken with a few people about it, and my therapist today even wanted me to go into the hospital.  I am not going into the hospital unless I am at a danger to harm myself, and I’m not, so therefore I will figure out the anxiety problem while I am living at home.

I’ve read a few interesting articles on evening anxiety, including this one because it talks directly about anxiety specifically in the evenings.  Every evening between four and five o’clock, I am having a very severe anxiety spike.  This has happened with regularity for over a week, since before I was in the crisis residence, and has happened at other times in my life as well.  I have a hard time when it gets dark outside, but its light at that time right now, although I do notice a further anxiety spike as the sun falls.  My mom and I jokingly have said for years that I have “sundowners,” which is a worsening of symptoms typical in Alzheimer’s patients at dusk.

Obviously I don’t have Alzheimer’s, but I have never been able to figure out why evenings are so difficult for me, other than maybe for trauma reasons.  I think it also has to do with my fear of the dark, which hasFear-of-the-Darkbecome more pronounced as I age for some reason.  Those little things that go “bump!” in the night…full body shiver.  I do believe all of that also relates to my issues with sleep and near-constant nightmares.  It is ALL related, I do believe.  I just have to figure out how to ease my unease.

 

image by listzblog.com


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, change, dark, depression, evening anxiety, fear, fear of the dark, hypomania, mania, mental health, mental illness, nightmares, panic attacks, PTSD, recovery, trauma, trust

Slow, slow day

I haven’t done anything worth doing today. I’ve run laundry and sent one article off to be considered for publication.  The rest of the time, I was in the bed. I spent a lot of time yesterday running around, and I guess it caught up with me today.

I had really weird dreams, one I was caught in a “Groundhog Day”-style loop, where elements of the dream kept repeating themselves.  Another one I was in a shouting match with my mother.  She was doing some huge construction/decorating project and was telling me what to do, and I was yelling back that she couldn’t tell me what to do since I was now a grownup and didn’t have to do anything she said.  I have a lot of those dreams with that element in it; where my mom is trying to boss me around and I finally refuse because I’m too old for her to boss. I don’t know where it comes from except my childhood when she did demand absolute obedience and I rebelled inside, rather than outwardly.

WEnt to the band concert last night and heard the high school band–they did well, and my middle one seemed to do well organizing and playing in the percussion section. So that was interesting.

Need to go organize the laundry.  Hope everyone has a good rest of the week!

 


The Tooth That Broke The Camel’s Back

Those who suffer from any type of chronic pain I am sure will understand my title all too well. I chipped one of my molars a little while ago. Since it was root canaled (and waiting for a crown), I … Continue reading

The Tooth That Broke The Camel’s Back

Those who suffer from any type of chronic pain I am sure will understand my title all too well. I chipped one of my molars a little while ago. Since it was root canaled (and waiting for a crown), I … Continue reading

Blue Skies

 

So I am feeling a lot better all of a sudden. I am assuming it is the Rexulti. Still having anxiety but will talk about that below.

I sure hope I am just feeling “normal good” and am not getting hypomanic. So far, however, I have avoiding shopping, gambling, and wild, risky sex (darn!) so I think I am okay.

Little account of my week:

Meds I am on:

Lamictal 300 mg, Rexulti 2.0 mg, Wellbutrin 150 mg, Klonopin .25/ 4 x /day

Friday: Feeling better overall. Actually willingly took an early shower. Took Danny (youngest son) out to eat. Had a good conversation. He announced that even though he is vegetarian, he is okay with the rest of the household eating meat. Impressive. I cut up some fabric for my quilt.

Saturday:

FINALLY got the needle changed on my sewing machine. I have been using the same needle for about 3 quilts. My older son glanced at the manual and did it in a flash. I am definitely mechanically challenged. I started sewing the pieces of fabric into the final blocks for the quilt.

I drove myself to get my nails done and felt some anxiety there. But I got it all done and drove myself home. Took a nice walk .

 

Sunday:

Weird sleeping: 8-4, 5-6, 7-8. Woke up with a headache. Made myself (literally drug myself) up for church for the late service. I came home and watched a baseball game on TV. Husband took me to the store for some new pajamas. Was not nervous riding in the car. Have been visualizing driving as I have been riding. This helps a little.

Monday:

Slept 9-6. Much better. Had a good morning. Did devotional. (Have been  really good about doing this and meditating for 5 minutes. I realize 5 minutes is not much, but it is a start.) Took a shower, got cat and dog off to the groomers, sewed a bit, and made reservations for our anniversary trip. We’re just going to stay a couple of nights at a resort in town. It’s our thirtieth. Good news! We had enough hotel “points” to spend both nights free.

I felt anxious in the afternoon about driving alone but knew I should do it. So I drove over to our women’s group which meets outside a Starbuck’s. When I got there, the group had decided to cancel because it was too windy. I was a little irritated. It meets at 3:45 and they cancelled at 3:15. Several of us were on the road by then. I turned around and drove home. But I guess it was good driving practice.

I made arrangements to get my older son’s windshield replaced. It has a heck of a crack in it. He could care less. But we have glass coverage on our insurance, so hey.

I decided to download and start listening to an audio book. “This Sweet Sickness” by Patricia Highsmith. Pretty good so far. Sort of about unrequited love.

Tuesday:

Quite a day. Had decided to find a therapist for my anxiety who specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). They had to take Medicare. I found one. She is from South Africa and has the neatest accent. Very kindly and sensible. I am still seeing my regular therapist to deal with other things.

So I woke up at 3. (I think I am falling asleep too early.) Ate some cereal and slept sort of fitfully till 7. Was nervous about meeting the new therapist and the very busy day ahead.

Rode quite a ways to see this new therapist. But she was worth it. Got right to the anxiety topic…did not waste lots of time talking about my parents, which most therapists do. Taught me a routine to follow when I get anxious. Made appointment for next Monday. Rode from there over to see my husband’s cousin who had had a stroke. Judy is doing really well…is up and about and just has some slight short term memory loss. She’s a little wobbly too, but not bad. We’re going to have her over (her daughter, too) for dinner soon. I figure if she gets tired, she can lay on the couch and we can all visit.

Stopped at a restaurant for “Taco Tuesday”. They lost our order and wound up giving us free guacamole, sour cream, and a ten dollar gift card. They were really nice about it. Saw a guy carrying some sort of cherry dessert-looking item. MUST have that if we go back.

Went to my bipolar group. The leader had prostate cancer surgery so we had a nice sub. I missed the leader, though. He is a super guy. Lots of problems as usual but everyone was limping along. My bipolar group meets right next to a gym. We have free access to this gym through my insurance. But the gym changed hands and we had to go sign up again. So we did. I plan on starting to go before my bipolar meeting. Just hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then head to the meeting. That will give me one exercise for the week.

I finished sewing the individual blocks for the new quilt. (See pics below). Now I iron the blocks and then start sewing the whole thing together.

My friend is having more trouble with her schizophrenic daughter. I am so worried about the whole thing. My friend is working retail and making basically no money. The daughter is not working now. The live-in boyfriend is not working and gets an allowance from his dad. These people are two weeks or so away from being on the street if something doesn’t get better. We can take in the daughter and my friend…we have one bedroom left. The boyfriend will have to go back home. I don’t anticipate this happening, but who knows? My friend also has absolutely no savings for retirement. She divorced a few years ago and it has been a mess. I talked to her yesterday and she seemed so down. Well, who wouldn’t be? Utter chaos. But the daughter is getting better, so that’s good.

I have a full day planned today (Wednesday). I did my devotional and am writing this blog. Next is shower time and laundry. I have to brush the cat (don’t ask), and iron some of my quilt squares. I’ve got to invite another cousin out for lunch and make more reservations for the summer. I’m going to listen to my audio book. Then at 2, I am going to drive myself to a new yoga class. It’s for people with medical issues and seniors. They do it with chairs. The woman told me you feel GREAT afterwards. I’d like that.

I think after typing all this, I must sound sort of manic. But I feel regular, whatever that is.

Love to you all and see you next week if I have not crashed,

lily

FullSizeRender (17)

some blocks from the new quilt

Blue Skies

 

So I am feeling a lot better all of a sudden. I am assuming it is the Rexulti. Still having anxiety but will talk about that below.

I sure hope I am just feeling “normal good” and am not getting hypomanic. So far, however, I have avoiding shopping, gambling, and wild, risky sex (darn!) so I think I am okay.

Little account of my week:

Meds I am on:

Lamictal 300 mg, Rexulti 2.0 mg, Wellbutrin 150 mg, Klonopin .25/ 4 x /day

Friday: Feeling better overall. Actually willingly took an early shower. Took Danny (youngest son) out to eat. Had a good conversation. He announced that even though he is vegetarian, he is okay with the rest of the household eating meat. Impressive. I cut up some fabric for my quilt.

Saturday:

FINALLY got the needle changed on my sewing machine. I have been using the same needle for about 3 quilts. My older son glanced at the manual and did it in a flash. I am definitely mechanically challenged. I started sewing the pieces of fabric into the final blocks for the quilt.

I drove myself to get my nails done and felt some anxiety there. But I got it all done and drove myself home. Took a nice walk .

 

Sunday:

Weird sleeping: 8-4, 5-6, 7-8. Woke up with a headache. Made myself (literally drug myself) up for church for the late service. I came home and watched a baseball game on TV. Husband took me to the store for some new pajamas. Was not nervous riding in the car. Have been visualizing driving as I have been riding. This helps a little.

Monday:

Slept 9-6. Much better. Had a good morning. Did devotional. (Have been  really good about doing this and meditating for 5 minutes. I realize 5 minutes is not much, but it is a start.) Took a shower, got cat and dog off to the groomers, sewed a bit, and made reservations for our anniversary trip. We’re just going to stay a couple of nights at a resort in town. It’s our thirtieth. Good news! We had enough hotel “points” to spend both nights free.

I felt anxious in the afternoon about driving alone but knew I should do it. So I drove over to our women’s group which meets outside a Starbuck’s. When I got there, the group had decided to cancel because it was too windy. I was a little irritated. It meets at 3:45 and they cancelled at 3:15. Several of us were on the road by then. I turned around and drove home. But I guess it was good driving practice.

I made arrangements to get my older son’s windshield replaced. It has a heck of a crack in it. He could care less. But we have glass coverage on our insurance, so hey.

I decided to download and start listening to an audio book. “This Sweet Sickness” by Patricia Highsmith. Pretty good so far. Sort of about unrequited love.

Tuesday:

Quite a day. Had decided to find a therapist for my anxiety who specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). They had to take Medicare. I found one. She is from South Africa and has the neatest accent. Very kindly and sensible. I am still seeing my regular therapist to deal with other things.

So I woke up at 3. (I think I am falling asleep too early.) Ate some cereal and slept sort of fitfully till 7. Was nervous about meeting the new therapist and the very busy day ahead.

Rode quite a ways to see this new therapist. But she was worth it. Got right to the anxiety topic…did not waste lots of time talking about my parents, which most therapists do. Taught me a routine to follow when I get anxious. Made appointment for next Monday. Rode from there over to see my husband’s cousin who had had a stroke. Judy is doing really well…is up and about and just has some slight short term memory loss. She’s a little wobbly too, but not bad. We’re going to have her over (her daughter, too) for dinner soon. I figure if she gets tired, she can lay on the couch and we can all visit.

Stopped at a restaurant for “Taco Tuesday”. They lost our order and wound up giving us free guacamole, sour cream, and a ten dollar gift card. They were really nice about it. Saw a guy carrying some sort of cherry dessert-looking item. MUST have that if we go back.

Went to my bipolar group. The leader had prostate cancer surgery so we had a nice sub. I missed the leader, though. He is a super guy. Lots of problems as usual but everyone was limping along. My bipolar group meets right next to a gym. We have free access to this gym through my insurance. But the gym changed hands and we had to go sign up again. So we did. I plan on starting to go before my bipolar meeting. Just hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then head to the meeting. That will give me one exercise for the week.

I finished sewing the individual blocks for the new quilt. (See pics below). Now I iron the blocks and then start sewing the whole thing together.

My friend is having more trouble with her schizophrenic daughter. I am so worried about the whole thing. My friend is working retail and making basically no money. The daughter is not working now. The live-in boyfriend is not working and gets an allowance from his dad. These people are two weeks or so away from being on the street if something doesn’t get better. We can take in the daughter and my friend…we have one bedroom left. The boyfriend will have to go back home. I don’t anticipate this happening, but who knows? My friend also has absolutely no savings for retirement. She divorced a few years ago and it has been a mess. I talked to her yesterday and she seemed so down. Well, who wouldn’t be? Utter chaos. But the daughter is getting better, so that’s good.

I have a full day planned today (Wednesday). I did my devotional and am writing this blog. Next is shower time and laundry. I have to brush the cat (don’t ask), and iron some of my quilt squares. I’ve got to invite another cousin out for lunch and make more reservations for the summer. I’m going to listen to my audio book. Then at 2, I am going to drive myself to a new yoga class. It’s for people with medical issues and seniors. They do it with chairs. The woman told me you feel GREAT afterwards. I’d like that.

I think after typing all this, I must sound sort of manic. But I feel regular, whatever that is.

Love to you all and see you next week if I have not crashed,

lily

FullSizeRender (17)

some blocks from the new quilt